Monday, June 14, 2010

The Road is Long

Every athlete, at some point in their racing life, will experience the most miserable possible conditions to participate in that event. With fortune, it will only be something short, but in some cases it may be a hundred miler, a marathon, or basically any triathlon. For me, that day was June 8, 2008. The air temp was 107 degrees when I went out for a 13.1 mile "run". I had already experienced the symptoms of dehydration so badly on the bike that I had to get off of it for a few minutes, followed by soft-pedaling back to the finish from 11 miles out. We all know how that story ended, with me marching a 3h37m half marathon en route to a 6h47m first ever half Ironman.

Yesterday was as close to that day as possible, and even just being out there evoked haunting memories. As such, I was quite glad to NOT be competing.

The Swim

Water temp was almost 80 degrees. This meant no wetsuits. For good swimmers, not a big deal. But for the majority of us runner-swimmers, this is a crucial start to an already difficult day. Time increases exponentially for poor swimmers, and that's just more time doing something, getting more tired, etc. OJ had a good swim, one of the better of the day (as usual). Pat had a strong swim, with Ben not far behind, and Spider too (in various waves). But many people were in the water much longer - like Claire, Beef and Rodney Taylor.

The Bike

With Pro Andrew Yoder riding to a 2:04, and some other fast splits being recorded, it seemed like other than the heat, it was maybe a little faster than last year, when it was pretty windy. OJ rode sensibly, Spider was about 6 minutes faster than last year, and Ben, Pat and Beef all had solid rides.

The Run

Here is where it would be tough. The temp was kicking into the mid 90s and the sun was relentless. It is like a cauldron when you're out on the course, and the out and back format offers no shade and heat blasting off the pavement. Spider hasn't run 13 miles at once in a year, yet still managed a 1:22:40 for the 4th best of the day. OJ ran a 1:34 which was a great run for him, and Pat and Beef were in the 1:40 range which was great for the day. I saw a lot of people dropping out. I know I probably would have landed in the hospital myself!

It was a successful day for our folks at Eagleman, with no DNFs and no real damage done. Spider finished 1 spot ahead of OJ (at 10th and 11th amateurs) and Pat was in 76th among amateurs. After that it became difficult based on how they had results set up, but you can see Ed Jablonski had a monster race, going under 5:10 in the 50-54 group. Beef and Ben finished well, Rodney Taylor survived his first half Ironman (with a 1:13 swim - yikes!) and then little ClaireBear came through in 7:05.

A little love for our racing friends to the South - Dirk de Heer (GRC) had his bike stolen out of his car on Friday. He rents a bike on Saturday and rides that in the race. For those not in the know, these bikes are not just "hop on and ride". They are meant to fit you, or you will have problems. I was impressed that he did the race at all! He called it a day shortly onto the run, but as I told him it was the worst conditions he could face, and after a day like that you need to brush it off, forget about it, recover and move on.

One day I'd like to be able to do Eagleman again, but it would not be on a day like yesterday.

Meanwhile, up in Baltimore, it was warm for the Survivor 7 again! Berdan took 2nd in 35:45 to multiple-time champion John Supsic. Ryan Pauling, who ran with us at TNT last week, was 3rd in 38:16. Elijah was around 40:34 at 5th. Megan DiGregorio was 2nd F at 44:21, and Tom Stott, who started 30 seconds after the gun, was 44:28. Ryan Orner returned to racing, and Cynthia and Pete survived!

Down by the Bay, where the watermelons grow...

Mike Zero did the Bay Swim (4.4 miles)

In the CHI...

Mellow Mike was 30th in 1:26:58 at the North Shore Half Marathon

Matty Blaze was 6th in 9:03 at the Midwest Distance Gala

And as mentioned in the email, a special shout awarding the Tough As Nails Award to Dr. K, who led his teammate out for the W at Crystal City/Clarendon Cup/Air Force Cycling Classic and hung on to finish 3rd himself. I wasn't there, but I bet it was dope.

But our Purple Drink Athlete of the Week goes to Spider, who virtually was faster than he was last year at EM with a better bike split, and an awesome run.

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